Red Alert

It has been an odd week in Oslo. Firstly, it has been hotter than hell here (and I don’t just mean “Hell” the small village by Trondheim airport as I’m pretty sure Oslo is always hotter than Hell).

The other day we hit the hottest July day recorded in Oslo and the effects are being felt by many. Apparently Arbeidstilsynet (the Norwegian Labour Inspection Authority) has received numerous calls asking if workers are allowed to go home due to uncomfortably hot working conditions. The answer, unfortunately for those of us who would much rather be spending all day lying in a dark room, is no. They have guidelines for workplace temperatures, but there is nothing written into law on this issue.

The situation is not being made easier by the fact that everywhere seems to have sold out of fans. Dragging myself round to all of the shops on Bogstadveien that could plausibly stock fans I was met with many an empty shelf. The only things left were those little spray bottle fans that pack as much oomph as a laptop would if powered by a single AAA battery. I resorted to stealing from someone who is out of town. I have become a fan rustler. Hey, if they are willing to let me have keys then they are required to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Working in the heat, in an old building with no air conditioning, has involved a new ritual which includes getting to work and instantly opening the window to an “accident waiting to happen” degree, aiming the fan straight at my head on full blast and then getting a large supply of extra cold water. But it still feels like working in an oven. One of my colleagues has been sitting at her desk with her feet in a giant plastic bowl of icy cold water. I have realised she’s a damn genius and I don’t understand how she isn’t running the place already.

The other thing raising temperatures around here is the news of a terror threat against Norway. I personally haven’t noticed any increased police presence on the streets, but then again I have mostly been going straight from the office to home (to sit in the dark and try and get cool!) But there are small things that speak to the preventative strategies put in place within the past few days. For example, the bins at Oslo central train station have been closed. It reminds me of when a certain someone used to visit me and get annoyed about the lack of bins at train stations and I had to explain about the IRA.

In the time I have been living here there have been a number of very serious crimes, including of course 22/7. But on a day to day basis I don’t know anyone who feels unsafe in Oslo. At the moment the police aren’t advising anything specific regarding the current terror threat. Judging by the number of people eating brunch at Skansen in the sunshine this afternoon it doesn’t seem like people are doing things very differently. Mostly I think people are just trying to have a peaceful summer, uninterrupted by the reports of danger.

So here’s to a summer of peace, joy and Non Stop krone-is. Yummy.



Posted On July 1, 2014

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So my first year is officially over! In the past academic year I have learnt so much Norwegian, including bizarre terminology in psychology and political science. I have also made some good friends and somehow managed to get really good grades (which, coincidentally, spell out the name of a well known Swedish pop group from the 1970s).

At the start of the year I was seriously wondering if I was going to develop a painkiller addiction due to the sheer number of Norwegian language induced headaches I suffered in the first few weeks. Luckily they subsided and I am so glad that I took the leap and quit my job to go back to school. Don’t get me wrong, it has been really hard – but I am much more proud of my work this year than all the stuff I did before back in the UK. I guess because of the language, but also because I finally feel like I am doing the right thing with my energy.

However…and there is always a ‘however’… my homesickness of recent months reached a peak and I have been seriously considering moving back to the UK for numerous reasons. Which is strange as I LOVE it here in Norway, but a combination of friends leaving and the general ‘easiness’ of being back at home has created some really convincing pushes and pulls. Being the daughter of an accountant I of course made lists of pros and cons regarding staying or going. There were basically the same number on each side so it has become a matter of trying to qualitatively work out which side is more compelling. I still don’t have the answer.

But I have made the conscious decision to just take the summer and try not to think about any of the big future questions and just go with the flow. I’m incredibly bad at doing this so I don’t know how it will pan out but I am at least going to try! For the moment I am back at my old job for the summer – which is actually working out really well. It is nice seeing my old colleagues and just working at something that I know how to do without having to constantly translate and think hard the whole time.

So here’s to not thinking and just ‘being’ this summer!

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Posted On May 5, 2014

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So it took 4 years, 2 months and 2 weeks but it finally happened – I finally felt seriously homesick last week. I thought I had been homesick before but I was clearly delusional those other times. And I understand why it is called a sickness, because it came in waves of complete wallowing followed by waves of obsessive Googling to consider moving home! It was like the ex-pat version of fever dreams!

I believe the moment that I caught this illness was when I got super excited about going to the birthday party of one of my best friends. This visit will involve two of my best UK friends, plus a roadtrip, possible KFC and seeing my old university town and random other people I haven’t seen in 6 years! (Wow I can’t believe it has been that long!)

So…this led me to viewing some hardcore job and property porn (note to self – should never go on Rightmove or Guardian Jobs!) and I randomly decided to double check the rules for getting authorisation to be a social worker in the UK. Now, here’s where things get tricky, perhaps I read this rule before but didn’t think it was a problem or maybe they have changed the rules, but it turns out that the whole process is more complicated than I thought.

Norway currently does not have a regulated social work profession (despite the fact that the education is regulated and you can only study it as an undergrad programme…don’t get me started on the lack of logic of the whole thing) but the UK does. In order to get authorisation in the UK when you have studied in an unregulated country you have to have completed your education and then worked fulltime for at least 2 years (in the country you qualified) after the end of the education.

Now a few weeks ago if anyone had asked me if I intended to be in Norway for at least 4 more years I would have probably not have even blinked before saying yes. But now that I am being told I HAVE to be here…well it feels less manageable. So after even more searching online I found a bunch of the type of jobs I would love to do – none of which I would require qualified social worker status in the UK for. In which case…why am I doing this if I don’t want to be here!? Grass is greener or genuine missing my country? Confusion reigns at the moment! Maybe if I lie in a cold, dark room for long enough it will blow over!

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